Future Friday: Lessons for HR from office designs

Just because other companies do something does not mean your company must or should.

I read a piece on a website called Insight which deals primarily with office design. I find articles on office design to be informative because they pay attention to workplaces and in many cases drive the how a workplace operates based on the design and layout of work. One piece by Mark Eltringham titled Beware the great apex fallacy of workplace design sounds a warning not only for office designers but also for HR departments.

Just because they do it does not mean you should

Eltringham points out that many companies adopt an office layout because some other, very successful, company has that office design. As an example, he talks about the supposed demise of the open office space because some companies have gotten rid of them. Yet Facebook has an open office design and is making it work. Eltringham says “…the problems commonly associated with open plan offices are also about company culture and the design of digital spaces, which are the true battlegrounds of modern company life.”
That is the warning to designing your company workspaces, in addition to designing other aspects of your company, such as performance management or compensation. Just because some other company does it one way does not mean that you should do the same thing. What you design for your company must fit your company. How you deal with workers must fit your culture. That is one of the reasons I am not a big fan of “best practices” being followed. Yes, that performance plan may work for the other company but it may not work with your employees.

If you feel the need

If you feel the need to change, rather than making changes based on what someone else is doing, try to determine what is wrong with your culture. What about your approach is not allowing employees to be successful? Try to find examples of companies that may have been in similar circumstances and then study what they did, not to copy them exactly but to learn from their solutions. As Eltringham says it is not necessary for every company to have a ping-pong table to attract millennial employees.

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